Monday, June 30, 2014

Secure Attachment and Sexual Desire: Building a Richer, More Fulfilling Erotic Life

Written by: Darcy
Minick, M.A. and Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych.

Welcome to our blog on Relationships and Sex. In this blog, we will be sharing information
about building a more fulfilling sexual relationship.

In a previous blog on Sex and Attachment, we explained how sex can be viewed as an attachment behaviour, and how our attachment style can affect how we engage emotionally and sexually with others. How we are attached to our partners has an impact on how we experience sex in our relationships. Our physical desire for our partners increases when we feel safe, secure and connected. An emotional connection is often viewed as an aphrodisiac. So first things first - a rich and fulfilling erotic life starts well before we hit the sheets! Our sexual relationship can also deepen our sense of connection to our partner, and allow us to feel better about ourselves and our relationship. Sex
can be a place of connection and healing as well. We have to be securely connected to our partners, both inside and outside the bedroom.

When we are securely attached to our partners outside and inside the bedroom, we are freer
to talk about ourselves - our thoughts, feelings, needs, desires and preferences. We can talk about our sexual self in a more open and candid manner without feeling fear, discomfort, shame or guilt. Secure attachment also allows us to be able to bear witness to our partner’s emotional and sexual world - and
to celebrate and cherish our partner’s sexual being. We are better able to process negative emotions experienced and/or associated with all aspects of emotional, physical and sexual intimacy, and to join our partners in more positive emotional experiences of joy and excitement involved in exploring
ourselves, and each other, and engage in sexual exploration and play. Being able to connect to our partner’s emotional and sexual experience inside and outside the bedroom leads to more connected interactions and improves our chances of having more “better sex”! The more “better sex” - the more connected - the more you desire sex.

Here are a few factors that you need to consider to create a more secure, richer, erotic life
with your partner:

Emotional Connection and Better Sex: The relationship must be a safe haven. With a safe, secure connection, partners can risk exploring their own, and their partner’s sexual world ... we are close
enough, and safe enough, to attune to our partner’s feelings and experience, as opposed to being focused on sex as a performance and task simply to relieve tension, please our partners, or gain their reassurance and approval. When our connection is not secure, attachment fears and general negative emotional distress in a relationship can dampen sexual passion, and hamper sexual curiosity and exploration.

Accessing Erotic Potentials: Learning about ourselves and partners sexual “hot spots”, and
risking sharing and exploring these hot spots requires an environment of trust and respect. Many of us long to discover our true selves - to go inward and come in touch with deeper passions and erotic interests - to be courageous enough to diminish anxiety by reducing shame and guilt about finding our desires, passions and owning our sexual selves; ultimately integrating these deeper sexual interests into the fabric of our sexual relationships. Eroticism is about finding our own hot spots and stimulating our partners psychologically - meeting them in their hot spots during sex - joining them in their sexual world of play.

Exotic is Erotic: Less exploration of our sexual selves, less novelty - the less desire we have for
sex. Sexual routine, or sex that is offered from a place of duty, dampens sexual desire. Again, we need to feel safe to have fun, and safe to explore ourselves, find something new in or selves, to be able to then try something new with our partners. Novelty is important as it increases dopamine, which increases androgen levels ... as Marvin Gaye said, Sex “is good for us”. Fun, interesting sex may be even better. Novelty creates that excitement and desire, and keeps everyone interested. For some of us, our partners sexual differences - what’s exotic to us - can be exciting places of exploration.

Mindful Sexual Presence and Embodiment: When we are emotionally safe - peaceful and relaxed inside - we can become present - really present - to sensation, touch, and the moment. When we are embodied (“of the body”), we are aware of sensations, sexual desires, feelings and wants, and are able to follow the flow of these sensations and strivings, the essence of a good sexual experience.

At the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships, a therapist can help you find and create a more
fulfilling sex life by working with you individually and/or as a couple. A therapist can help you understand your sexual desires, emotional reactions and needs, and help you communicate these to your partner more effectively. A therapist can also help you learn how to respond to your partner’s desires, feelings and wants to help you build a more secure and satisfying sexual relationship. A therapist can help you to create greater security in your relationship - and then facilitate sexual growth and intimacy.

Read more about our Relationship & Sex Therapy Treatment Service.